Spring is the season for inoculating logs. Wait until after the last frost to do it so the spawn is not shocked by freezing. You will need Inoculating equipment: Drill w/ 5/16″ bit and 1.25″ stop, staple gun, aluminum labels, ballpoint and Sharpie, Hammer or sawdust spawn injector, portable stove, pot or can to melt wax, natural bristle brush.
You will need plug or sawdust spawn and logs or stumps appropriate to the species of mushroom you would like to grow. Oak is good for most species of fungi. See the chart for the preferred type of wood for various popular cultivated mushrooms, although cultivation books and specs from spawn suppliers suggest a a wider variety of woods are acceptable. See recommendations for Shiitake, Maitake and Blue Oyster on the Fungi Perfecti site.
Plug spawn is put in the 5/16″x1.15″ holes with a hammer or mallet. Sawdust spawn is inserted with an injector tool. Holes for sawdust spwn can be bigger and should match the barrel of the tool.
Wax is used to seal the ends of the logs (immediately after cutting), and the holes after the spawn is inserted. This serves to preserve moisture and keep out competing fungi.
According to many sources you should use “cheese wax”. if you find this hard to acquire, you can use candle wax. Many cultivators prefer to use Soy Wax as it is from a renewable resource, as opposed to Paraffin which is petroleum derived. For me the most important distinction is between “pillar” and ‘”container” waxes. Pillar wax is intended for casting free-standing candles. It is harder and formulated to shrink ever so slightly and not stick to the mold, so it tends to flake off the log. Container wax is stickier, softer and does not shrink. Wax can be purchased online (last time I got some, Canwax seemed the best deal) or at craft stores like Michael’s.
For answers to frequently asked questions check out the Fungi Perfecti FAQ about log and stump cultivation of mushrooms.
Yesterday we went to see Steven Martyn of the Sacred Gardener giving a talk called “Dancing with Lyme“. Steven is an experienced herbalist who has personally experienced Lyme in the long term. He first acquired it while camping in Florida, and after initially suppressing it with pharmaceutical antibiotics, it resurfaced (or he re-acquired it) about a decade later. With the help of his colleagues who shared their knowledge based on recent advances in the understanding of how the infection works, he is now symptom-free. He does not discount the possibility that the bacteria may still be in his body in its encysted, dormant form.
I will report what I can recall of his account, as he had a lot of useful insights and references. I also added some links of my own. After that I’ll add what I have found in reference to mushrooms which might also help in the prevention and cure of Lyme, because Steven’s expertise in mostly in the area of herbs.
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the Borrelia type. It is a spirochetal (corkscrew-shaped) bacterium which is extremely fast and capable of drilling itself into tissues to avoid detection by the immune system. It targets inflammation in joints and nerve tissue, taking advantage of existing conditions like candida, arthritis, and congenital predispositions, like nerve problems.
These bacteria are carried between species by black legged, or deer ticks. The nymphs hatch from the eggs uninfected, but can acquire the bacteria from the small rodents on which they pass their first stage of feeding. The tick then lies in wait for a larger animal: a deer, a dog, or you. As the tick begins feeding, the bacteria react to the first blood “analyzing” the immune response and adapting itself to attack or evade, your specific defenses. Individuals with compromised immune systems, whether through emotional or physical stress, genetic predisposition, poor diet, or preexisting infections etc., are more susceptible.
In addition to Lyme, ticks (being the filthy little creatures they are) are usually carrying one or more other bacteria (Babeia, a malaria-like parasite, Bartonella, bacteria that live primarily inside the lining of the blood vessels and more) so that a majority of those infected by Lyme report co-infections of one or more other pathogens. Lyme takes advantage of the inflammations caused by these co-infections. And of course these diseases have there own symptoms.
It should be noted that Steven and all the experts he cited said that if you have been bitten by a deer tick to immediately go to emergency for treatment with antibiotics. If the course they offer is less, go to your doctor and get it extended to 18-21 days. Unfortunately sometimes the bacteria may survive the treatment and emerge later, in which case further treatment with antibiotics may prove ineffective. The treatments mentioned below can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine, but consult your doctor.
Steven’s main treatment reference is a book by Stephen Harrod Buhner called Healing Lyme. Buhner’s protocol is outlined on his site. Steven also got a lot of help from Stephen O’Neill at the Ontario Lyme disease Clinic and Dr. Maureen McShane.
For prevention they recommend Astragalus (available as dried herb, seeds, or young plants from Ritcher’s). Treatments for active Lyme include Teasel, Cat’s Claw, Japanese Knotweed Root (get it from a neighbor who is battling the stuff), Artemisia (Wormwood), Clivers and Andrographis. Buhner recommends drawing out the spirochetes (with teasel tincture), and rebuilding your collagen, before killing them.
Buhner has a page recommending herb sources on his site (probably US suppliers), and Steven Martyn recommends Organic Connections, Wainfleet, Herbies Herbs, Toronto, Judy’s Organic Herbs, Ottawa (who has a line of Buhner remedies), and Amazon. With the Ontario companies tell them that Steven From Algonquin Tea sent you and outright demand the best herbs.
For fighting Lyme, Steven recommended a diet that avoids sugar and processed carbs; even maple syrup, fruit or sweet corn. Concentrate, instead, on high quality proteins and fats. Astragalus is food herb that boosts the immune system which can also be added to dishes as a thickener. Hot baths, showers, saunas help make the body inhospitable to the germs, and movement like Tai Chi, yoga or exercise helps clear the lymph system of the waste byproducts of the immune response.
Steven’s talk prompted me to do a bit of quick, research on recommendations for specific mushrooms to treat Lyme disease. To be honest, I should have looked this up before, as Lyme is endemic in the area.
The sites I found were mostly anecdotal, but a quick glance over the offerings finds the regular suspects recommended: Chaga*, Shiitake, Maitake*, Reishi, and Coryceps. I’m curious about the possibilities for Artists’ Conk*, Tinder Fungus* and Birch Polypore* because they are also found in the woods* where the ticks hang out, and my mother taught me that the cure is often found near the cause (like nettles and dock). According to The Fungal Pharmacy they are all anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, analgesic, and immune boosting.
It is interesting to note that analysis of the body of Otzi the 5300 year-old mummy found frozen in an Alpine glacier indicates that he had Lyme Disease as well as an intestinal parasite called whip worm. He was found in possession of both Tinder and Birch Polypores, an indication perhaps that our stone aged ancestors knew something about the potential of these fungi to aid the body in suppressing parasites and bacterial infections.
One site that lists similar herbal treatments to what Steven recommends as well as some mushroom extracts is Restor Medicine. Julie Daniluk, the popular anti-inflammatory nutritionist has some recommendations on supplements for Lyme Support on her website.
We’ll be taking Sacred Gardener’s Astragalus tincture along with our regular Chaga and Turkey Tail. I also keep a brew of Immune Boosting Tea on the slow cooker with the addition of Birch polypore. We will also be starting a dedicated garden for the herbs mentioned above.
UPDATE: I currently take a mushroom tincture combination of Chaga, Artists Conk, Maitake and Birch polypore, and a herbal tincture of Astragalus, Artemesia, Cleavers, Dandelion, Knotweed, and Teasel.
Ginseng, a well known immune system booster, is the only non-fungal ingredient in this concoction. The mushrooms included are Maitake, Reishi, Chaga, Artists’ Conk, Shiitake These are chosen for their general immune boosting, or specific flu fighting, properties according to The Fungal Pharmacy by herbalist Robert Rogers. The Reishi and Ginseng were bought in Toronto’s Chinatown, the rest were grown or foraged locally.
The amount below was added to 2lt of water and simmered on the wood stove down to 1lt. The result can be kept in the fridge added to juice, kombucha or tea (or any combo of those) for a daily tonic. For a less bitter tea leave out the Reishi and the Conk. The resulting broth is good in soups and other dishes where stock is used.
I want to get some like minded people from my area together to share our interest in fungi, and maybe work together on some projects. Somehow calling it a “Mycological Society” or “Association” doesn’t sound right. So for now I’m going with a “Working Group”, as I hope it will be activity oriented, and proactive in the larger community. Below I’ve jotted down some ideas on the subject:
Why a Mushroom Working Group?
Fungi are essential to life on Earth, but strangely, until quite recently they have largely been ignored by western science, medicine and agriculture. Now, as a result of recent research, a resurgence of traditional knowledge, and the efforts of citizen scientists and home cultivators, the value of these species is being recognized as a source of nutrition, medicine, ecological remediation, soil building, recycling and more.
Fungi are a part of every ecosystem, and many mycophiles (people who love mushrooms) get a great deal of pleasure just observing, photographing, collecting and identifying the various species that they encounter on a walk in a forest, field, park, or their backyard. For many the “use” of a particular fungus is less important than its identity and its interrelationship with its environment.
Others see that our forests contain a wealth of food and medicine just waiting to be harvested. Others use techniques for growing mushrooms indoors and out that they are constantly refining. Strains of fungi are being developed for countless applications, from recycling specific waste products and breaking down toxic compounds to attacking specific diseases.
Just as fungi, and their actions in the environment, are diverse, so are the ways in which people engage with them: collectors, foragers, farmers, woodlot manages, gardeners, herbalists, restaurateurs, environmentalists, landscapers, and home cultivators all bring their unique perspective to mycology. A Mycological Working Group can benefit all these people as the communication will help increase the successes of everyone involved. Plus it’s more fun in a group.
What can a Mycological Working Group Do?
Work on projects together
and lend support to each others’ projects. These can include indoor and outdoor activities such as:
-Forage for edible and medicinal mushrooms
-Forage to identify/collect/photograph all types of mushrooms
-Inoculate stumps in harvested/de-forested areas to accelerate reforestation
-Grow mushrooms on farm/garden/kitchen waste
-Use fungi to help clean up land or water that is contaminated
-Create permaculture “forest gardens”, incorporating mushrooms and other food plants
-Combine mushroom beds within vegetable gardens
-Grow mushrooms indoors in containers or outdoors on logs or beds of wood chips
-Collect/propagate/preserve a library of mushroom cultures
-Build a lab for sterile procedures
-Build an incubator to grow cultures
-Build a room for fruiting large quantities of mushrooms
Share knowledge and skills.
A diverse group as mentioned above brings with it a variety of experience from which all can benefit. Below is a list of things that can be learned and shared.
-Food Preservation, tinctures and extracts
-Medicinal and nutritional knowledge
-Chainsaw/wood chipper skills
-Heating and Air Conditioning
-Artistic skills (dyeing, paper and textile making, sculpture)
A group can take advantage of the economy of scale to save money buying supplies and sharing spaces together. Some of the resources a group might purchase together include mushroom cultures and spawn, consumable lab supplies like disposable petri dishes and nutrient media, or grow bags for indoor cultivation.
Even better is sharing resources already in your possession on group projects. Facilities can be shared, like unused indoor spaces for meeting, growing, and storage. Public and private outdoor spaces like developed and undeveloped forested areas, gardens, yards, and empty lots. Members of the group can also share growing substrates they may have access to, like farm/garden waste, wood chips, compost, manure, coffee grounds, spent grain from brewing and more.
Many members will have the specialized tools that go with their skills and areas of expertise:
-Chain saw/wood chipper
-Construction and fabrication tools
Now, as a result of recent research, a resurgence of traditional knowledge, and the efforts of citizen scientists and home cultivators, the value of these species is being recognized as a source of nutrition, medicine, ecological remediation, soil building, recycling and more.
This site is dedicated to learning and sharing information about Fungi, what part they play in nature, and how we can benefit from integrating them into our lives, our communities and our environment.
Tradd Cotter explains how his patented process will enable us to make personal, specifically targeted, antibiotic, antiviral and anticancer drugs. You can see lots more of Todd’s videos and buy his book at Chelsea Green Publishing. The video below starts at the part where he describes his discovery, but the whole video is worth watching if you have the time.
In early October my partner mentioned they had seen a solitary mushroom emerging from a wound in an elm tree on our local trail. This especially interested me because of the Muskoka Mushroom Mystery. I took my camera up there to get some pictures on site before collecting the specimen to clone for possible cultivation.
With help from the FaceBook Mushroom ID Forum and a look at the Mushroom Expert website it seemed we had found an Elm Oyster (Hypsizygus ulmarius). Mystery solved. Perhaps, but this raised another question for me, because I thought I knew the Elm Oyster.
I had bought some Elm Oyster (H ulmarius) liquid culture from Gallboys on Amazon in 2015 and I have been growing it quite successfully ever since. I find them particularly suited to indoor fruiting. Where the Blue and Pearl Oysters tend to produce “coral-like” fruits in my FC, the Elms produce big fleshy, but delicate, fruitbodies. Too tender,and quick to dry out, they would not do well in shipping or shelf life; but nice eating. The trouble is, they look like the mushrooms in the picture on the right. I wonder if these are Pleurotus ulmarius, a name which is sometimes mentioned as synonymous or outdated.
It’s not just that Gallboys have mixed up their cultures (they do also sell what they call White Elm Oysters – P ulmarius which I have not seen). A search of the internet for “Hypsizygus ulmarius” turns up about a 50/50 split between pictures of the two distinct species. The divide is pretty clearly between growers and field mycologists.
No less than Paul Stamets has touted the H ulmarius on his site and trademarked the name Hypsizygus ulmarius Garden Patch (HUG) on a PDF which depicts a Pleurotus-like oyster. Studies have shown this mushroom to be a great companion for vegetables. The study is mentioned in Mycelium Running and specs for growing it are featured in his Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms. But how can these studies have gotten so far with the species misnamed?
I’m leaving the comments open on this post because I’d really like to hear from some of you who are in the know. I’ll be posting a links on a couple of FB pages like MycTor and Mushroom ID in hope of getting some feed back.
Thanks in advance, fellow Mycophiles!
In early October my partner mentioned they had seen a solitary mushroom emerging from a wound in an elm tree on our local trail. I was interested, of course, but all the more so because it reminded me of the Muskoka Mystery Mushroom which had I found in similar habitat, but in a primordial stage that made it hard to ID. I immediately headed up there with my camera. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as I did on the Cain Foray and just rely on my iPhone.
Long story short, it’s a very good candidate for the MMM. The horizontal stem emerging from deep in a wound. The very firm striated stipe. This was a very mature specimen quite dry and so no exudate, but that is not unexpected. Unfortunately I only have my memory to go on as the pictures of the MMM are not good.
With help from the FaceBook Mushroom ID Forum and a look at the Mushroom Expert website it seemed we had found an Elm Oyster (Hypsizygus ulmarius). Mystery solved. Perhaps, but this raised another question for me, because I thought I knew the Elm Oyster Because I grow them. Read more about the questions this raises…